Following the talks between the defense ministers of Germany and France, the parties agreed to start joint development of the sixth generation fighter. Implementation of the first steps, aimed at determining the appearance of a promising aircraft and its propulsion system, is scheduled for 2019.
At present, the number of countries with fifth-generation fighter aircraft can be counted on the fingers of one hand. At the same time, the Europeans do not have their own design, therefore, the armed forces of the NATO North Atlantic bloc are supposed to be equipped with American F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Given this circumstance, there are doubts about the capabilities of the enterprises of the aerospace industry in Western Europe to create a promising sixth generation machine, having no experience in the production of the previous generation fighter.
Even more difficult to determine the characteristics of the fighter, which could meet the requirements for combat aircraft of the sixth generation. Especially in conditions when tactical and technical qualities and flight characteristics of a promising vehicle themselves have not yet been defined in any country of the world.
At the same time, some experts in the field of aircraft building believe that the future fighter should have improved stealth indicators as compared with the fifth generation, reduced fuel consumption in all flight modes, super maneuverability and the ability to accelerate to supersonic speed without the propulsion afterburner.
Earlier, representatives of France and Germany presented their concept of a fighter of a new generation at the ILA Berlin Airshow air show, which was held in Berlin in April 2018. Speaking about the properties of the machine, the experts noted that it is planned to create a multifunctional aircraft, whose crew will be able to rely on artificial intelligence in their actions. The potential ability of the fighter to solve problems in conjunction with unmanned aerial vehicles is specifically stipulated.
Among other things, at the insistent demand of France, tactical nuclear weapons will be included in the onboard armament complex of the sixth generation aircraft. It is possible that the deck version will also be designed.
The creation of a demonstration platform for testing promising technologies is possible until 2026, and the mass production of the fighter is scheduled for the 2040s.